Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

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Portrait of the Royal Tudors. At left, Henry VII, with Prince Arthur behind him, then Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), and Prince Edmund, who did not survive early childhood. To the right is Elizabeth of York, with Princess Margaret, then Princess Elizabeth who didn't survive childhood, Princess Mary, and Princess Katherine, who died shortly after her birth. (Public Domain)

The Other Arthur Of England: Pendragon Or Tudor?

For over 300 years, and probably more besides, the fabled figure of King Arthur had set the standard for English kings to follow. The victorious son of Uther Pendragon was, in the words of Geoffrey of Monmouth, the conqueror that ‘no country could resist.’ Kings came “of their own free will to promise tribute and to do homage.” Arthur held more than the hopes of heroism. His was a tale of caution. Camelot’s king knew what it was to be betrayed and abandoned. He suffered defeat and humiliation. He had even been made a cuckold. Any king that made Arthur his example was one who would never let a crown rest too easily on his head. Defeat could follow even the most glorious of victories.

Tapestry showing Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him (c. 1385)(Public Domain)

Tapestry showing Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him (c. 1385)(Public Domain)

Towards the end of the 15th century, the tales of King Arthur, Camelot and his knights of the round table had acquired a new significance in England. The stories of a king who could triumph over his enemies, only to be betrayed by those nearest to him, found a new poignance in a half century where kings rose and fell with unprecedented pace. Yet, just as Arthur’s tales were flourishing in literature, a new wave of men was seeking to expunge him from the history books. These men fostered a new form of learning, called “renaissance humanism”. They were adamant that this treasured king of the Britons was nothing more than a myth.


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